SPRING HILL — Dell O. Barnes Sr. is the Brooksville Elementary School computer lab manager. In his free time, he's a counselor, broadcaster, minister and volunteer. And, as of Friday night, he is the 2010 Hernando County School Related Employee of the Year.
When his name was announced at the Palace Grand dinner celebration, his first words were, "Thank God. Thank God."
He thanked "One of the greatest administration staffs in the county, led by Mrs. (Mary) LeDoux," the school's principal.
Then he addressed the administrators and teachers who had just cheered for him when his name was announced.
"You are the educators. You are the meat and potatoes, but we are the dessert," he said.
During the evening's program, 27 school-related employees were recognized with video clips, prepared by the district's HITV crew, and then on stage, where each received trophy featuring a gold star from School Board chairman James Yant, superintendent of schools Bryan Blavatt and Hernando County Education Foundation president Gus Guadagnino.
Barnes spent his first two years at Brooksville Elementary as a volunteer, his next two years as a physical education paraprofessional and the past two as the computer lab manager.
He came to Hernando County in 2005 from New York.
"I was in broadcasting, along with a ministry and the Army reserves," he said. "I worked for court television. I was on the tech end of court TV."
He became concerned about what was best for his family when his reserve unit made the activation list. He and his wife, Michelle Barnes, decided to send their oldest son, Dell Jr., to Spring Hill to live with his grandparents as a start.
Things went well for Dell Jr. and after visiting, Michelle Barnes was ready to move. She came first. Dell Barnes Sr. followed a few months later.
"So far there are no regrets," he said, "No regrets at all."
The couple has three children, Dell Jr., 18, now a freshman at the University of Central Florida, and Dheron, 10, and Destiny, 8, both at Brooksville Elementary. Michelle Barnes is a writing coach at the school.
Outside of school, Dell Barnes Sr. is the pastor at Courts of Praise Deliverance Ministry in Spring Hill. He does a 30-minute Gospel program each Sunday at 8 a.m. on WWJB- 1450 AM. He's also on the Senior Enrichment Board at Oak Hill Hospital.
He also counsels youth at the Eckerd Youth Challenge.
When he heard his name announced, Barnes said he was elated.
"I believe I was chosen because of the work that I do and because the bottom line is the Lord and the love that I show the children," he said.
Michelle Barnes looked at her husband and added, "I think it's because you're so community minded."
Maybe so, but Barnes suggested there was something more.
"What started all of this is my wife" he said. "She's always pushing me to do great things."
The School Related Employee of the Year Supporting Stars Recognition Program 2010-2011 was sponsored by the Hernando County Education Foundation. That organization's diamond sponsor was Suncoast for Kids Foundation, made possible by Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union.
Other supporters were the Hernando County School Board members, Hernando Association of School Administrators and Affiliates, HITV, Hernando Schools Central Printing, Joni Industries, Academy of Teachers and former School Related Employees of the Year.